His comments came as media reports were claiming that he might not be interested in holding this top Pentagon position as US President Barack Obama begins his second term next year.
"Right now, my goal is to basically meet my responsibilities in terms of dealing with those issues and that's the most important focus I have right now," Panetta told reporters travelling with him on his three-nation tour of the Asia Pacific region.
The Defence Secretary was responding to questions on news reports that he is planning to go back to California. "You know it's no secret that, at some point, I'd like to get back to California. It's my home and we have our institute," he said.
"But there are a lot of challenges right now with regards to defence issues in Washington, sequestration, budget issues, issues related to planning on Afghanistan and I think the President and I are working very closely to make sure that we meet those defence challenges," he said.
"Who the hell know?" Panetta said when asked "you don't intend to stay for four years, then?"
Washington: US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta Tuesday said he is not quiting the Obama Cabinet for now and his main focus is to address the all the current security related challenges, including the issue of Afghanistan.
First Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 11:38